Everything is always a matter of cost. How many times have you been deprived of something because it’s just too expensive? On the design side, you always have to keep in mind how much your product is going to cost to make, going from computer screen to an actual tangible product. If you are on the side that’s going to be manufacturing that design, you probably don’t want to spend your entire day quoting out your clients’ projects, but actually spend the time manufacturing it too!

Whichever side of the equation you fall under, SolidWorks Costing has something to satisfy everyone. The best part about it is it updates in real time and is extremely configurable. This means that as a designer, you can add or subtract features and have SolidWorks tell you the impact of your design change on the over-all cost per part; whether it’s a quantity of one, five, or 4000. If you have a cost target in mind, Costing lets you make decisions where you can choose what’s most important to you in your design, and you can nip and tuck until you achieve your goal.

While costing is still considered one of the newer tools for SolidWorks in it’s second year of existence there are already some significant enhancements for 2013. The ability to perform costing on turned (lathed) parts is now an option, in addition to the already existing capabilities of sheet metal or a standard mill machined part. SolidWorks takes into account the operations associated with typical manufacturing processes to give cost break down of all the operations involved. Based on current (also customizable) material costs, SolidWorks automatically grabs the assigned material from the FeatureManager and gives you a rough idea on how much you should budget for material costs. Additionally, you can get any other information you need from your vendor, such as setup costs, single operations, forming features, and other specific costs related to the vendor and add them all into customizable templates. For every vendor you use, just set up a custom template and your next choice of who to use for the job should be as easy as the click of a button.

Most of us in design aren’t into creating reports, and luckily with Costing we can present various manufacturing options to the bean counters without actually having to do any work. Just generate a costing report, and SolidWorks automatically generates a report in the form of a Microsoft Word document with everything you need, including cost comparisons of whatever you’d like. Did you want the anodized finish, or just painted?

Right now the focus of Costing is mainly with those that deal with low to medium volume sheet metal and machining practices. You won’t find Costing for intricate mold operations, progressive dies, transfer dies (think car hoods and body panels). When costing machined parts, be aware that this is all based on manual machining operations and set-ups (2 ½ axis milling, drilling, and facing from block or plate stock).

So whether you’re an engineer designing with cost as a priority or a vendor who needs a way to quickly estimate a job, SolidWorks Costing is a great enhancement for productivity. This tool is just another example of how SolidWorks continually enhances it’s software suite based on the wants and needs of their dedicated user base!